Conflict is inevitable. War is not.

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The Beyond War Northwest Film Group evaluates films and looks for those that would reflect and expand upon Beyond War principles. The list of reviewed films is attached: Beyond War Film List January 2015 update, but the following documentaries were especially informative and potentially transforming. We are always looking for other films – please join us in this process.

Documentaries that Tell Good Stories

War is Obsolete:

The Cats of Mirikitani. 2006. Director: Linda Hattendorf. New Video Group, 74 minutes.

Eighty-year-old Jimmy Mirikitani survived the trauma of WWII internment camps, Hiroshima and homelessness by creating art. But when 9/11 threatens his life on the New York City streets and a local filmmaker brings him to her home, the two embark on a journey to confront Jimmy s painful past. An intimate exploration of the lingering wounds of war and the healing power of community.

Citizen King. 2004. Directors: Orlando Bagwell and W. Noland Walker. PBS Home Video, 115 minutes.

This beautifully crafted American Experience production traces King’s efforts that went beyond the civil rights to include eradicating poverty and ending the war in Vietnam. As he evolves in the film, he has the insight that violence is at the root of America’s problems. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. 2003. Director: Errol Morris. Sony Pictures Classics, 95 minutes.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara worked for both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, playing a key role in shaping both administrations’ approaches to the Vietnam War. This Oscar-winning documentary traces McNamara’s career from government to the World Bank; but it’s his work during the Vietnam years that’s highlighted in this film, which features extensive archival footage and interviews.

Hidden Battles. 2010. Director: Victoria Mills. VMS Productions, LLC., 65 minutes.

Hidden Battles is an intimate and powerful documentary about what it means to kill another human being during war, as told by five men and women who have pulled the trigger. Consciously apolitical but deeply person, the film examines the strength and struggles of these soldiers and how they create a life for themselves after war.

White Light, Black Rain – The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 2007. Director: Steven Okazaki. HBO Video, 85 minutes.

In this extraordinary documentary, filmmaker Steven Okazaki presents shocking archival footage, stunning photography and heartrending interviews from both Japanese survivors of the attacks and the Americans who believed their involvement would help end a brutal conflict. It is a deeply moving look at the painful legacy of the first use of nuclear weapons in war.

Why We Fight. 2005. Director: Eugene Jarecki. Sony Pictures, 98 minutes.

Features politicians and military experts who analyze the vast scope and reach of the military-industrial complex in the United States. The title refers to World War II-era newsreels commissioned by the U.S. government to justify the decision to enter the war.

We Are One on This Planet:

Beyond Belief.  2006. Director Beth Murphy. Principle Pictures, Inc. 92 minutes.

Two strangers, Patti Quigley and Susan Retik, formed a common bond in their grief when both lost their husbands on Sept. 11, 2001. This documentary chronicles what they did with that unimaginable loss, traveling to Afghanistan to meet women there also widowed by violence. Director Beth Murphy follows Quigley and Retik as they discover that although they are worlds apart, they share a kinship with their Middle Eastern counterparts.

Beyond Our Differences.  2008.  Director: Peter Bisanz. Entropy Films. 74 minutes.

Key religious leaders, politicians, and luminaries tackle the toughest and most complex issues in the modern age, and share what it is that inspires them to affect positive change.  By providing such variety of experiences in such accessible format, they hope that individual viewers will understand this unified message of hope and will become empowered through their own expressions of faith to impact positive change in their lives and the lives of others.

Nobelity.  2006.  Director: Turk Pipkin. Monterey Video, 85 minutes.

Filmed across the U.S., and in France, England, India and Africa, Nobelity combines the insights of nine distinguished Nobel Laureates with Turk Pipkin’s first-person view of world problems and the children who are most challenged by them. Its message is both cautionary and optimistic.

Playing For Change: Peace through Music. 2009. Directors: Playing For Change. Hear Music, 83 minutes.

Full of hope, struggle, perseverance and joy, this is the story of the unparalleled international musical collaboration, Playing For Change, and its remarkable power of redemption. It is an extraordinary effort that unites musicians and vocalists from diverse parts of the world. By utilizing innovative mobile audio/video techniques, it captures these artists then combines them all together to create one seamless collaboration. An exhilarating experience!

The Means Determine the Ends:

Encounter Point. 2006. Directors: Ronit Avni & Julia Bacha. Just Vision, 85 minutes.

Created by a Palestinian, Israeli, North and South American team, the film moves beyond sensational and dogmatic imagery to tell the story of an Israeli settler, a Palestinian ex-prisoner, a bereaved Israeli mother and a Palestinian bereaved brother who risk their safety and public standing to press for an end to the conflict. They are at the vanguard of a movement to push Palestinian and Israeli societies to a tipping point, forging a new consensus for nonviolence and peace. “Sharing pain, sharing hope.”

Every War Has Two Losers. 2009. Director: Haydn Reiss. Zinc Films, 32 minutes.

Every War Has Two Losers is based on the journals of poet and conscientious objector, William Stafford. Stafford refused to fight in World War Two as he believed that war was not the answer. The film draws from Stafford’s journals to present another point of view on war making and its ability to create security. For all those who think war is inevitable, Stafford said ‘No’. That war is a choice among choices and there are other methods of reconciliation to be pursued before the bullets fly.

One Peace at a Time: a film about a messed up world…and how we could fix it. 2010. Director: Turk Pipkin. Monterey Video, 83 minutes.

A follow-up to Nobelity that features positive actions to make the world a little better.

The Power of Forgiveness.  2007. Director: Martin Doblmeier. First Run Features, 78 minutes.

An Amish community rocked by a school shooting, survivors of 9/11, victims of the “troubles” of Northern Ireland and others share their views on how forgiveness has helped to alleviate their grief and resentment in this emotional documentary. Filmmaker Martin Doblmeier explores the spiritual, physical and psychological benefits of forgiveness and includes interviews with Elie Weisel and Vietnamese Buddhist leader Thich Nhat Hanh.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell. 2008. Director: Gini Reticker. Passion River Films, 72 minutes.

The film tells the story of the thousands of Liberian women, both Christian and Muslim, who helped end the bloody civil war in 2003 that killed over 200,000 people. Through nonviolent protests, these brave women forced a resolution in the peace talks, and their efforts led to the election of Africa’s first female head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

The Strangest Dream. 2008. Director: Eric Bednarski. Bullfrog Films. 89 minutes.

Tells the story of Nobel Peace Prize winner Joseph Rotblat, the history of nuclear weapons, and the efforts of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs to halt nuclear proliferation. The first Pugwash conference took place in the small Nova Scotia fishing village from which it draws its name. This film brings to light the group’s behind-the-scenes role in defusing some of the tensest moments of the Cold War.